A new lung screening service will soon be launched in Luton to help reduce the number of deaths from lung cancer.
To coincide with Lung Cancer Awareness month in November, Luton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has announced a new lung health check service to reduce the number of people dying prematurely in the town from lung disease.
According to the CCG, Luton has one of the highest death rates from lung disease in the country - which has been linked to the low response rate for lung screening.
From early 2020, people aged between 55 and 75 who smoke or have smoked in the past will receive a letter from their GP inviting them to a free lung health check.
There are almost 14,000 people in the town within the target group.
The screening checks will be carried out in mobile units in different locations in the town - such as supermarket car parks - to make it more convenient for people to have a lung health check.
Dr Talib Abubacker, Luton CCG’s clinical lead for respiratory medicine, said: “Targeted lung health checks are an important part of our overall strategy to reduce deaths from lung disease in Luton.
"Lung disease is often detected quite late which makes it harder to treat successfully. By detecting symptoms earlier than we would have otherwise, we’ll be able to offer more treatments, such as curative surgery which will save lives.”
On November 1, Luton CCG hosted an awareness event at the Mall featuring giant blow-up lungs in a bid to educate the public about the new initiative, which follows successful lung screenings in Manchester, Leeds and Nottingham.
Before the project in Manchester only 18% of lung cancers were diagnosed early at stage one and 48% at stage four. When the mobile screening unit visited the city there was a major improvement, with 68% of lung cancers diagnosed at stage one and 11% at stage four.
The health checks will be carried out by NHS staff and if necessary a CT scan using low-dose X-rays can be performed in the mobile unit. The lung health checks will not just identify cancers earlier, they can also pick up other heart and lung conditions, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Support and advice for improving lung health will be available, including information on how to stop smoking.
Luton CCG is receiving funding in partnership with Thurrock CCG as both are based in the East of England Cancer Alliance. NHS England has selected these areas to extend early lung health checks to its populations because they have poor outcomes for diagnosis and lung cancer survival. This is one of the first projects to be launched under the NHS Ten Year Plan.